BH-BL weighs needed fixes

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District Board of Education heard proposals from the Critical Infrastructure Needs Committee at the Tuesday, April 7, meeting, that laid out more than $39.5 million in needed infrastructure improvements.

The committee has been working since October alongside architects from Mosaic Architecture, engineers from Integrated Building Systems and district staff to identify areas in need of improvement at the district's five schools. The 29 projects were broken into three tiers, based on the necessity of the improvements.

Proposals to add six kindergarten classrooms to Charlton Heights and expand the transportation facility were listed separately, as they involved significant new construction.

Without those two projects, the cost of the improvements amounts to an estimated $29.6 million.

Topping the list of necessary work was upgrades to the aging Stevens Elementary HVAC system, expected to cost about $3.6 million. The energy savings of the upgrades would come to an estimated $27,000 per year.

Similarly, replacing old single-pane windows at the high school, middle school and at Charlton Heights would reap energy savings, though consultants did not have numbers on hand. This improvement, deemed the second most necessary, was pegged at $1.76 million.

Doing roof work at all schools was third on the list, at an estimated cost of $4.14 million. The work would be done with 30-year roofing materials.

The committee selected projects that were needed to protect investments already made by the district, would result in energy savings or constituted health and safety issues, said Assistant Superintendent Jacqueline St. Onge. Projects that were not completed in the last major referendum in October 2003 because of cost overruns were also examined.

The earliest capital improvements will come before voters as a referendum in October, though district officials said that making a proposal is far from certain, as they recognize residents' budgets are strained by a tough economy.

We are not necessarily going out with a referendum, said St. Onge. "This is probably not the time people want to talk about that."

The Board of Education has the ultimate say on what will go to referendum, and when.""

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